Starting on a new fitness program can be a scary thing.
Yes, yes…we know exercise is good…a virtual fountain of youth! Yet, it can be so hard to lace up those shoes or step into that Zumba class. Our minds are filled with “what if I can’t keep up”; “what if I’m doing all the wrong steps”; “what if people laugh at me”.
Getting fit, like success in so many areas of life, requires a bit of vulnerability. You have to be willing to get out there, try something new, move in a new way, challenge yourself…Change.
The good news is that every time you try, you get a little stronger for the next time you need some hutzpah. But making that leap of faith can be nerve-wracking. When you don’t have the confidence around physical fitness it can seem much safer to stay on the couch.
So many of us have set fitness goals and end up feeling like failures because we can’t quite attain them. The secret is in lowering the bar. Yes, I said it! Don’t set a goal to go from no exercise to being at the gym for an hour each day this week. Set mini goals and build on the success. You see, when we set a goal (no matter how small) and achieve it, we are building confidence. More specifically, we are building self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is merely the belief that we have the skills and abilities to be successful at a specific task. If I asked you on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highest) to rate your ability to find your home, I’m sure your reply would be a 9 or 10 – unless you’ve just moved or had a medical emergency. But, if I asked you on a scale of 1 to 10 to rate your ability to lose weight, to run a marathon, or to go vegan, you might not rate yourself as highly. We all have things that we are good at and others that need a little…ahem, practice. We aren’t meant to be perfect. But incrementally increasing our confidence when it comes to our ability to live fit is invaluable to our health and to maximizing energy.
Setting small goals each week or month can help you to increase your self-efficacy, which research shows will increase our willingness to exercise more intensely and is linked to a lower BMI (body mass index). Essentially, setting realistic and achievable goals helps build your confidence so you can strive for more and greater goals.
So, how do you get started flexing your self-efficacy muscle? Choose a goal. Do you want to run a race? Start with a 5K or a 1-mile fun run. Maybe your goal is to be more consistent with exercise, so you start with a goal to exercise at least 3 days a week. Maybe your goal is just to get active period. Start by committing to put on your running shoes each day when you get home from work and at least walk around the block.
Want to know the 4 secrets to achieving your goals? Write your goal down, post it where you can see it, tell others about your goal and track your progress. Really savor and reflect on your successes as you see what you can achieve. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding setting mini goals can be!